Strength Training (cont.)
How Do I Design a Training Plan?
Here are the steps to designing your personal resistance exercise training plan.
Decide where you will lift.
- Working out at home. If you decide to work out at home, then consider the exercise tubing as an inexpensive but effective way to get started. If you want to use free weights then you will need the following:
- Dumbbells. I prefer solid dumbbells since the plate-loading type can be tedious to change repeatedly. Dumbbells cost anywhere from 50 cents to $1 per pound. Solid hex dumbbells are what I recommend because they are inexpensive, and they don't roll around like round dumbbells. You might also decide to purchase a bench. Look for an adjustable bench that is well constructed. It should not rock and should feel solid when you lie down on it. If you decide to purchase a bar for the bench press, then you will need uprights on your bench. I don't recommend this for beginners due to safety issues (unless you have a spotter); you can always do dumbbell presses to get you started. If you decide to go with a bar and plates, then look for a 35- to 45-pound bar with collars to lock the plates in place, and then you need to buy plates to load the bar. Figure to shoot for a bench press of up to 100 pounds, so you will need to purchase plates for at least that amount. You can start with two 25-pound plates, four 10-pound plates, and four 5-pound plates. That will get most beginners started.
- Working out at a gym. This is good option for beginners and experienced lifters. The gym has a wide variety of machines and dumbbells, so you get to see and try out all the different options. Plus, gyms have trainers, and if you're a beginner, it can be very helpful to have a trainer plan a program for you and take you through it to teach you how to lift. Most gyms have introductory sessions, and these are a good idea if you're new to lifting. Once you get the hang of it, you can explore it on your own with confidence.
- Assess your skills. Consider hiring a fitness trainer to work with you at a gym or at your home if you're a beginner. It's difficult to learn on your own how to lift weights from a book or even a video. You can do it, but the hands-on approach with a trainer is superior. You don't need to use the trainer forever, either. You can start by having the trainer design a plan for you and show you how to do it, and then depending on your skill, you might only need a couple of sessions and then a periodic follow-up with the trainer, say, once every one to two months. Learning how to lift weights properly will give you the confidence you need to lift on your own and get stronger and stronger.
- Define your goals. For most beginners, the goals are typically to tone up and get stronger. The good news is that any lifting will give you both, and you can expect strength gains in just a few weeks. Tone comes later, and how much muscle you see depends on how much excess body fat you have. For instance, if you have lots of excess fat on the back of your arms, then you won't see the triceps muscles right away; likewise, if you have excess fat on your belly, then you won't see six-pack abs until you reduce or eliminate the fat.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/30/2014
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